Miss Scodelario on swapping Skins for swashbuckling.
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There’s a strange intimacy attached to profanities—those used in general conversation to assert an emotion, as opposed to being prefixed simply with rage—that means when a stranger swears in your presence, be it physical or over the phone, an invisible bar is somehow lifted. In interview situations, such as a 13 minute chat with the actor Kaya Scodelario, it most commonly reads that the subject is “down to earth”. An industry appointed catch-all term for someone who, despite their celebrity, remains local boozer friendly. With a Twitter bio that makes light of her fondness for fart jokes and dog pictures—and an impressive 1.2 million Instagram followers elsewhere soaking up her holiday snaps and breastfeeding selfies—the 25 year-old is undoubtedly winning in this arena.
When she was 11, Scodelario’s mum took her to see Johnny Depp in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the first offering from the mega franchise and the world’s initial introduction to Depp’s wildly likeable Captain Jack Sparrow. 14 years later, she’s relaying an anecdote about the influence the actor had on her while filming together for the new Pirates film, Salazar’s Revenge. “We were just lying on a piece of green screen and we had to pretend to be falling,” she says. “I didn’t know what the fuck I was going to do, and I looked over to him and as soon as they said action he was just completely committed, he didn’t care if it made him look silly or weird or strange, and that inspired me to let go and get out of my mind.”
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Tapped by directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, Scodelario plays Carina, a mathematician, astronomer and 2017’s latest character to mark a shift in the way women are depicted in cinema set ahead of the 19th century (Florence Pugh’s Katherine made a similar industry footprint back in April with the release of Lady Macbeth). “She definitely is the most modern female character we’ve had in these movies,” asserts the actor. “She’s definitely a modern woman. She wants an education, the right to go to university, she enjoys studying, she enjoys astronomy, she’s very independent; she definitely isn’t ready to just become a wife.”
“When you join something that is so established,” she continues of her contribution to the series, now in its fifth incarnation, “you have a responsibility, because you want to bring something new and you want to make it better. I didn’t want to just do my job in the movie and not feel as though my character meant something to the heart of the original lm. I also wanted to be proud of myself and feel as though I could bring something to this character that would be different.”
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Becoming Carina meant studying the basics of what it meant to be a young woman in the 17th century: researching astronomy, longitude, latitude and “stuff that I had absolutely no fucking idea about, which was great because I got to find out a bunch of cool new information.” Namely how to be silly. “Most of the roles I’ve had [before] have been very serious, very emotional and all about breaking myself down,” she recognises in contrast, “with this I got to enjoy playing off other actors and I learnt about comedic timing.”
She’s in Cape Town when we speak, nearing the end of what presumably has been a lengthy shoot day capturing the third instalment of The Maze Runner, another franchise in which Scodelario stars. Unlike Pirates, the dystopian trilogy is a project she’s been privy to since the start. However, like the former, it finds her among a cast predominantly comprised of men. Dylan O’Brien and Thomas Brodie-Sangster feature elsewhere on the line-up, while Scodelario is one of just two female names on the first film’s IMDB page. “I’ve never been made to feel as though I am a girl in a room full of boys,” she observes of the situation, “I think that’s what equality’s about, I feel completely equal to them.”
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is out now.
See the full shoot in the Summer 17 Issue of Wonderland, out now and available to buy here.
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